Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

October 09, 2009 09:58 ET

Minister Kenney Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 9, 2009) -

Editors Note: A photo for this release will be available on the Canadian Press picture wire via Marketwire.

Thirty years after Canadians opened their hearts and homes to the "boat people" of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today saluted the ongoing work to help those in need.

"Canadians have a proud history of protecting some of the world's most vulnerable people," said Minister Kenney. "The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, which is a vital part of Canada's international humanitarian commitment, allows Canadians to play an active role in the protection of refugees, and helps to foster intercultural understanding."

The program became firmly established 30 years ago with the outpouring of support from Canadians who welcomed over 32,000 refugees from Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia who were fleeing communism. Canada is a safe haven for refugees of many nationalities, having welcomed over one million refugees since World War II.

This commitment toward goodwill and compassion was recognized in 1986 when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees awarded the Nansen Medal to the people of Canada. The Nansen Medal (now the Nansen Refugee Award) is given annually to individuals or organisations that have distinguished themselves in work on behalf of refugees. Canada's award was the first and only time that the Medal was given to an entire nation of people.

"We have an internationally recognized refugee protection system that is fair and generous," said Minister Kenney. "Canada's refugee programs have enabled thousands to bring their experiences, hopes and dreams and their skills to help build an even richer and more prosperous society for us all."

The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program is administered by Citizenship and Immigration Canada and private sponsors who provide financial and settlement assistance to refugees. Marking the 30th anniversary of the program recognizes the invaluable contributions of Canadians, past, present and future, to upholding Canada's humanitarian tradition.

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